Attacks & hate in the sports debate on social media

In collaboration with Amnesty International Denmark & with support from TrygFonden

This report analyzes the sports debate on Facebook and Instagram. The study is based on over 5.5 million comments from the past two years' discussions on Facebook pages for Danish sports media and major sports clubs and associations. Using artificial intelligence, we have identified and analyzed the occurrence of attacks and hate in the comments, and we have investigated who these attacks are targeting.

A community for everyone?
Sport plays a central role in Danes' lives, both as an activity and as a source of entertainment. The popularity is also reflected in the public debate on social media, where sport not only receives attention in specialist sports media, but also in major national news media.

If sport is to be accessible to everyone, then it requires an open and inclusive culture that makes it safe for everyone to participate. When we examine problems with linguistic attacks and hate in the sports debate on social media in this analysis, the aim is to clarify behavior that can have the opposite effect of excluding some people from participating on an equal footing with others.

The conclusion of the analysis is clear: When the conversation revolves around sports, the risk of attack and hatred is present. Prejudice, stereotypes and hatred form part of the sports debate, and it affects both people inside and outside the sport. Although sport typically serves as a rallying point that strengthens unity, our analysis thus shows that the online sports debate does not always live up to this ideal. The exclusionary and divisive nature of hate speech stands in stark contrast to the vision of sport as a source of community and togetherness.

Download report


May 28, 2024